If you want the wider range of SRAM's 12-speed Eagle, but don't want to pony up for a new drivetrain, Garbaruk makes an 11-speed cassette with 46, 48 and 50-tooth options. Their 11-speed, 10 x 50 cassette matches the 500-percent gearing range of 12-speed Eagle, costs $265 USD, and weighs only 319 grams. Garbaruk is a family owned business that hails from Kyiv, Ukraine, where they design, CNC-machine, and manufacture a number of problem-solving drivetrain components like chainrings, booster cogs and complete cassettes.
Construction and Features
The Garbaruck 10 x 50 cassette that we review here
Garbaruk XD Cassette Details:
• Construction: One-piece CNC-machined chromoly steel, with aluminum driver cog • 11-speed, Fits SRAM-type XD drivers • Cogs 10-12-14-16-19-22-26-30-36-42-50 • Options: 46, 48, or 50-tooth final cog • Compatible derailleurs: SRAM Type 2.1/3 11-speed NX, GX, X1, X01, XX1 - Shimano 11-speed with cage upgrade. • Weight: 310g to 319g • MSRP: $250 to $265 USD • Contact and purchase: Garbaruk
is designed to fit SRAM-compatible XD-driver freehubs. Construction is quite similar to SRAM's high-end 11 and 12-speed cassettes and they share the same spline tools. The first ten cogs are machined from a single piece of chromoly steel. The block of ten steel spockets index into largest cog, which is carved from aluminum and secured with three screws. Garbaruk machines and profiles the cassette teeth to assist shifting when pedaling in the right direction - and also to keep the chain on the correct cog while pedaling in the wrong one. The steel monoblock is chrome plated, and the anodized aluminum driver cog is available in red, black or silver.
The first ten cogs are machined from a single bar of 4130 alloy steel.
Garbaruk machines a number of ramps and tooth profiles to assist shifting.
Three screws and a number of machined pins secure the aluminum driver cog.
Shimano 11-speed derailleurs require Garbaruk's extended cage for 48 and 50-tooth models.
Garbaruk offers comprehensive installation instructions on line, but the simple process is almost exactly the same as installing or removing a SRAM XD cassette, so it will not pose a problem for the initiated. The one difference is that the Garbaruk cassette uses an aluminum screw-on cap that stabilizes the outer end of the body. The spline is the same as the XD tool used to install the cassette, but Carbaruk furnishes a special tool with each purchase that does a better job.
Garbaruk's construction is beautifully executed. The steel cassette block is impressively lightweight.
In their instructions, Garbaruk strongly suggests that you purchase their extended derailleur cage ($71 for SRAM and $59 for Shimano) if you are planning to use the 48 or 50-tooth options with SRAM 11-speed changers, and they say that Shimano 11-speed changers are reluctant to shift any cog larger than a 46, so check their website to be sure your model can handle the wider range.
My experience with SRAM's Type-2 11-speed derailleurs is that they can shift reliably up to 50 teeth if the chain length is correct and the B-tension screw is accurately adjusted (as demonstrated by the XX1 changer on my Diamondback Release test bike).
Warning: some rear suspension designs have excessive chain growth, which will exceed the capacity of SRAM's 11-speed changer at full compression and rip it from the bike. If you suspect this, do a full-
The SRAM X1 11-speed changer is pushed to full capacity by the 10 x 50-tooth cassette, but shifting was smooth.
compression check to ensure correct chain length and cage capacity before you ride, or purchase Garbaruk's aftermarket cage as cheap insurance. It's easy to install.
Garbaruk shifting using standard SRAM X1 Type-2 changer with B-tension adjustment and two additional links.
• 10 x 46*- 310g ($255) • 10 x 48*- 314g ($260) • 10 x 50 - 319g ($265) Cogs: (10-12-14-16-19-22-26-30-36-42-50*) *Only the last cog changes.
• XG-1299 10 x 50 - 362g ($429) • XG-1295 10 x 50 - 356g ($367) • XG-1275 10 x 50 - 450g ($195) Cogs: (10-12-14-16-18-21-24-28-32-36-42-50)
I installed the Garbaruk 10 x 50 on a Diamondback Release 3 that was equipped with a SRAM X1 rear derailleur and a XG-1150 11-speed cassette. The 32-tooth chainring, combined with the 42-tooth cassette cog provided a sufficiently low climbing gear for the 27.5-inch wheels, so fit riders would reap the most useful benefit from adding a wider-range, 50-tooth cassette by switching from the 32 to a 34-tooth chainring. That would maintain your original climbing gear, while offering more top speed on the flats and descents. I rode the stock 32 and a larger 34-tooth chainring to try both options.
Setup: I like fiddling with mechanical things, so I opted to try the stock derailleur before replacing its cage with Garbaruk's longer, reconfigured upgrade. In a testament to SRAM, the X1 Type 2 changer operated the wider range cassette beautifully, requiring only a few turns of the B-tension screw with a 3mm Allen key to maintain the recommended pulley height over the 50-tooth cog. Using the stock 32-tooth chainring, I only needed to add two links to get the shifting correct. That said, if you watch the video comparisons, it is clear that the X1 changer is at max capacity. I'll call my installation a win, and it saved 71 dollars. That said, the extended-cage option assures users that all will be right, especially for the 50-tooth conversion.
Gear spacing: On trail, Garbaruk's 500-percent range 11-speed does not give the impression that it has larger gaps than SRAM's 12-speed Eagle, which was a bit of a surprise. Much of that similarity is because the first four and the final three cogs of the Garbaruk 11-speed are the same as SRAM's 12 speed cassette. Garbaruk's choice of a 19-22-26-30 progression in the center of the cassette is where the two diverge. The delta between Eagle's mid-cassette shifts ranges between 12 and 15 percent, where the Gabaruk's mid-range gearing varies between 14 and 18 percent.
How those numbers translate to actual riding is much simpler to explain. Garbaruk's wider spacing feels intuitive in singletrack situations, where the gradients rapidly change and a more closely spaced cassette would have me double-shifting in both directions to maintain cadence. Closely spaced shifts are more beneficial when the gradients are sustained, because they allow the rider to fine-tune cadence and power output. All-mountain descending, however, usually favors wider spacing, because gravity enhances acceleration. Since most of the time spent reviewing the Garbaruk wide range cassette was technical trail riding, I enjoyed the wider gear spacing. I seldom needed to double or triple shift to match speed and grade changes.
Switching from the 32 to a 34-tooth chainring moved most of my riding to the center of the cassette. Using the 32-tooth ring, I was often in the 10 and 12-tooth cogs at pace and most often climbed in the 42, leaving the 50 for the steepest grinds. With the larger chainring, I used the entire gearing spread and often climbed in the 50.
Overall performance: Comparisons between the stock 10 x 42 11-speed and the wider-rage Garbaruk cassette are largely positive. Shifting is a few percent slower using the wide-range cassette in both directions, but never a perceivable difference while riding. Both the SRAM 10 x 42 and Garbaruk 10 x 50 could be pedaled backwards without jumping off the larger cassette cogs, which is a plus in my book, and the Garbaruk cassette could be shifted crisply under full power. That's all a cassette really needs to do.
I can think of only one issue that may raise its head, and that is the close proximity of the aluminum locking ring to the rear dropout. Fouling that gap with a piece of wire or brush could back out the ring and cause damage, but no such thing occurred while I was testing the cassette. Finishing in a high note, Gabaruk's cogs seem quite durable, with only cosmetic wear on the aluminum cog and nothing worth a mention on the plated steel cogs.
Garbaruk's wide-range cassette options for SRAM XD drivers are a worthwhile consideration for 11-speed owners who want a more go on the top and more grunt on the bottom end of their gearing. The elephant in the room is the fact that, if you add the cost of the booster cage to the cassette's MSRP, the upgrade begins to approach the price of a basic SRAM 12-speed GX Eagle drivetain. That said, the Garbaruk option saves over 130 grams of rotating mass from the rear suspension over GX, and offers three alternative low gears. (And, you'll still have a spare cassette.) Consider also that a large number of 11-speed 29ers sold are geared too tall, and Garbaruk's lower-geared cassettes already have a waiting audience.—RC